(Please note these resources are provided for reference only, we do not necessarily endorse all the views or content in each one, nor have we ‘vetted’ any volunteering suggestions).
- Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Social Justice Statement 2011-2012, ‘Building Bridges, not Walls: Prisons and the Justice System’. Related Powerpoint Presentation.
- Dr Ruth Webber, I Was in Prison: A Window into Prison Ministry, Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Discussion Paper 76. A powerful insight into the experience and role of Catholic prison ministry inside our prisons. See also this brief article on Dr Webber’s reflections: ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel’.
- International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care, an international body that supports Catholic prison ministries around the world.
- Jesuit Social Services has a wealth of information and variety of resources.
- Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, has a diverse range of reports and data on imprisonment and the experiences of prisoners in Australia, including juveniles.
- Community Legal Centres NSW, Offer advice to clients, especially the disadvantaged and marginalised, but also offer a range of newsletters, articles on topics related to community, social justice, imprisonment and fairness, as well as advocacy work.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics has a regularly updated informative section on ‘Crime and Justice’.
- Australian Institute of Criminology has an extensive range of quality research on various topics.
- Sydney Institute of Criminology, University of Sydney Law School has a wide range of research, reports and information
- NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) offers great publications, crime and justice bulletins as well as statistics and interactive maps.
- National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund promotes quality evidence-based practice in drug law enforcement to prevent and reduce the harmful effects of licit and illicit drug use in Australian society.
- For more on Juvenile Justice in NSW see Justice NSW – Juvenile Justice.
- For more detailed research on the Closing the Gap programme and its successes and challenges see Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
- Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse – promotes discussion and disseminates relevant Indigenous justice information to government policy makers and those working in the Indigenous justice field.
- For information about what’s happening in the Sydney Archdiocese see the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry.
- For a wide range of resources on creating justice with our First Australians see the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council’s, ‘Justice for Indigenous People’
What Can You Do?
As Christians, we are called to acknowledge the human dignity of all people, even those who have done great harm through their crimes.
-2011-12 Social Justice Statement
- Prison Chaplaincies: Familiarise yourself with what Catholic prison ministry is all about and discern whether you might have gifts and desire to offer them in this area. Get in touch with your diocese’s version of CatholicCare or Centacare as they have information and advice on this chaplaincy ministry. In Sydney Archdiocese visit: CatholicCare.
- Support or get involved with Jesuit Social Services which offers a range of programmes and resources for crime and justice prevention as well as support for those already in the criminal justice system.
- Volunteer: Consider volunteering at local community based services that offer support and advice to their communities and/or engage in advocacy and education work. Community Legal Centres (CLCs) are independent community organisations providing equitable and accessible legal services. NSW CLCs work for the public interest, particularly for disadvantaged and marginalised people and communities. A good place to start is: Community Legal Centres NSW
- Acknowledge the dignity of every human being. We are all sinners. Have you ever wondered how easy it might have been, in different circumstances, to find yourself in court – maybe even facing a prison sentence? Be aware of and challenge stereotypes and judgemental statements about prisoners and people who have served their sentences. Sir Gerard Brennan, former Chief Justice of Australia, said: ‘Prisoners, no less than the free, are our brothers and sisters and we have been silent too often when their human dignity has been diminished
- Support people in prison, and their families. There are many ways to support people who are in prison: praying for them, writing letters, or visiting. Any activity needs to be engaged in sensitively and sensibly. Contact a prison chaplain or a network that offers support and training. Some groups that do this are:
- Prison Fellowship, which suggests a variety of prisoner support activities.
- Kairos, a local community-based Christian ministry that serves those in prison and their families and friends.
- Cana Community, which runs a mentoring programme.
- Take up the challenge to engage in realistic critique. How do you speak and think about prisons and people who are or have been prisoners? Whenever you hear prisoners being discussed in the media, in parliament or in social gatherings, be aware of stereotypes and misinformation. Call talk-back radio, write letters to the editor, or visit our local politicians, and challenge calls for tougher bail conditions and sentencing, which put more people in prison for longer.
- Save the Children – Juvenile Justice Mentoring Programme, serves young people in detention or released, to help break the cycle of imprisonment and build happy resilient lives.
- Address the social factors that lead to imprisonment. Many prisoners come from a background of social and economic disadvantage. A disproportionate number suffer from mental illness, cognitive impairment or addiction to drugs or alcohol. Indigenous people are also seriously over-represented in prisons. What is being done to support vulnerable people in your parish, school or local community? What can your parish, school or local community do? Encourage the relevant politicians in your area to address this issue.
[Some of these suggestions were prepared using the ‘Ten Steps Card’ prepared by the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council in support of the 2011-12 Social Justice Statement, ‘Building Bridges not Walls’.]